Previewing new albums from Staind, Whiskeytown, Tyrese, Wellwater Conspiracy, and more.
About To 'Break'
Staind's third studio album, "Break the Cycle" (Flip/Elektra), features the single "It's Been Awhile," which has been No. 1 on both Billboard's Modern and Mainstream Rock Tracks for five consecutive weeks. "It's about all the things that you don't do often enough, like say you're sorry, make a phone call, let yourself feel proud about something," frontman Aaron Lewis says.
"Cycle" was produced by Josh Abraham and is the follow-up to 1999's "Dysfunction," which reached No. 1 on Billboard's Heatseekers chart and featured the top-20 rock airplay hits "Mudshovel," "Just Go," and "Home." The set sports a full-band version of the track "Outside," an acoustic version of which (recorded by Lewis with Limp Bizkit's Fred Durst during the 1999 Family Values tour) reached the top-10 on both of Billboard's rock airplay charts.
Staind is currently on tour in North America with Cold and Puddle of Mud. A Durst-directed video for "It's Been Awhile" is heavy rotation on MTV.
A Cure For 'Pneumonia'
Whiskeytown's "Pneumonia," recorded nearly two years ago and tied up in label limbo ever since, finally sees the light of day this week on Lost Highway. "We shot for something grand, [and] tried to finally make what all of us felt was like a classic record," says group member Ryan Adams. The only problem: Whiskeytown is, for all intents and purposes, finished as an active band.
Ironically, "Pneumonia" could very well deliver the band the most critical and commercial acclaim it has ever experienced. Driven by gentle, rootsy ballads ("Under Your Breath") and mid-tempo acoustic-rock sing-alongs ("Don't Wanna Know Why"), the album is as evocatively beautiful as it is musically fearless.
"I'm proud of what the band stood for, which I think was like all the bands that we grew up on, their kind of ethics," multi-instrumentalist Mike Daly says. "I think Whiskeytown will be like that beautiful diamond in the rough that you would never want to polish any further. You'd just want to let it be."
'2000 Watts' Shining Bright
If Tyrese had his way, three years wouldn't have elapsed between his 1998 self-titled RCA debut and his second set, "2000 Watts," due this week. "It wasn't my choice to wait that long," says the L.A. native, who first came to national attention by way of a Coca-Cola TV commercial in the late '90s. "But God had a much bigger plan. So what can I complain about?"
Fronted by bouncy lead single and potential summer anthem "I Like Them Girls" (which is No. 19 on Billboard's Hot R&B/Hip-Hip Singles & Tracks chart), the album knocks the sophomore-jinx concept on its ear. Chock-full of strong, radio-friendly tracks, it showcases a multifaceted Tyrese: party guy ("Off the Heazy," produced by Jermaine Dupri, who also reels off a guest rap), R&B groove man ("Fling"), balladeer ("I'm Sorry," "For Always"), romantic crooner ("What Am I Gonna Do"), and pop soulster (the Babyface-produced "There for Me [Baby]").
"I believe in being me, and whatever people feel I am, I am," Tyrese says. "You'll hear the biography of my life at that particular point in time when you hear this album."
The Right 'Combination'
Even after a grueling 75-date tour of Europe and North America, Pearl Jam drummer Matt Cameron wasted no time getting back into the studio. He and cohort John McBain (ex-Monster Magnet) quickly wrapped "The Scroll & Its Combinations," their third full-length set under the moniker Wellwater Conspiracy, and are already working on another new album. "Scroll," the band's first set for TVT, drops this week.
"Scroll" is loaded with familiar faces, including Cameron's other ex-Soundgarden mates, Kim Thayil and Ben Shepherd, who play guitar and bass on several tracks. Cameron jokes that "this weird singer dude we just kind of found around town" sings lead on the '60s-tinged "Felicity's Surprise." Actually, it's Pearl Jam's Eddie Vedder, masquerading behind the pseudonym Wes C. Addle.
Although WWC's sound is not entirely free of comparisons to its members' past projects, Scroll finds Cameron and McBain switching instruments liberally and reveling in everything from gritty garage rock ("Tidepool Telegraph") to oddball instrumentals ("Keppy's Lament"). The album, recorded at Cameron's Space Studio in Seattle, also includes covers of tracks by two obscure '60s acts: Dutch band the Q65's "I Got Nightmares" and Morgen's "Of Dreams."
Nikka Costa could have taken the easy route. Daughter of famed arranger/producer Don Costa, the 20-something singer/tunesmith could have easily used the family name to jump-start her career. Instead, she chose a more low-key approach for priming her Virgin Records U.S. debut, "Everybody Got Their Something": an ongoing Tommy Hilfiger TV campaign that featured her debut single, "Like a Feather."
"'Like a Feather' is about surrender -- surrendering to your life," Costa says. "The point is that [life's] going to end up how it is. You can either fight it and be frustrated, or you can go with it and be happier along the way."
Although "Everybody Got Their Something" marks Costa's U.S. debut, she is no stranger to the international music scene. After recording a Christmas song with Don Ho at the age of 5, Costa made her stage debut at age 7 (with a full orchestra, no less). "The next thing I know, we recorded and released this record when I was 8, and it went to No. 1 all over Europe and South America for a really long time," Costa says of her first album. "It kind of happened by accident."
Additional titles hitting stores this week include rapper Redman's "Malpractice" (Def Jam); techno-tinged hard rock act Static-X's "Machine" (Warner Bros.); industrial rock outfit Stabbing Westward's "Stabbing Westward" (Koch); rapper Sticky Fingaz' "The Autobiography of Kirk Jones" (Universal); soul trio City's High's "City High" (Interscope); U.K. 2-step purveyor Artful Dodger's "It's All About the Stragglers" (Sire); punk outfit Fenix TX's "Lechuza" (MCA); eclectic rock act Geggy Tah's "In the Oh" (Luaka Bop/Virgin); new albums from German electronic artist Markus Popp's Oval project, "Commers," and Japan-based Nobukazu Takemura, "Sign" (Thrill Jockey); Canadian rapper Kardinal Offishall's "Firestarter, Vol. 1: Quest for Fire" (MCA); rapper Pastor Troy's "Face Off" (Universal); Scottish sibling duo the Proclaimers' "Persevere" (Nettwerk); DJ Logic's "The Anomaly" (Division One/Atlantic); and American Music Club frontman Mark Eitzel's "The Invisible Man" (Matador).
Also out this week is a live album from New Jersey rock mainstays Bon Jovi, "One Wild Night: Live 1985-2001 (Island); a new album from soul veteran Ike Turner, "Here and Now" (iKON/Bottled MaJic); a solo set from former Squeeze principal Glenn Tilbrook, "The Incomplete" (Valley); a new album from venerable U.K. modern rock group Echo & the Bunnymen, "Flowers" (spinART); rap act Lil Jon & the Eastside Boyz' "Put Yo Hood Up" (TVT); Southwestern indie rockers Calexico's "Even My Sure Things Fall Through" (Quarterstick); singer/songwriter Deliliah Harris' "Bigheaded Girl" (PaperNotes); an album from Superchunk frontman Mac McCaughan's Portastic project, "Looking for Leonard" (Merge)
Reissue and archival releases due this week include expanded reissues of the Madonna albums "Like a Virgin," "Madonna," and "True Blue" (Warner Bros.); the Beach Boys' "Hawthorne, Ca." (Capitol); a reissue of rap duo Gang Starr's debut album "No More Mr. Nice Guy" (JCOR/Interscope); a two-disc best-of from singer/songwriter Joe Jackson, "Steppin' Out" (A&M); and comedian Bill Cosby's "20th Century Masters: The Millennium Collection" (Rhino).